Using Windows Update can ensure that your PC or laptop is always running the most recent Windows 7 components – hotfixes, malware removal tools, etc. – and by using this tool you are protecting your computer and your own personal data from threats. You can also use Windows Update to provide your system with the most up to date drivers, and therefore you can protect your PC from hardware conflicts.
However there are occasions when you might wish to avoid downloading an update, or in particular avoid installing one. In this situation you need to know where the downloaded updates are stored in order to delete them, and as such you will first need to know a bit about how Windows Update works.
Understanding Windows Update
Running on your PC as a service, Windows Update is effectively active at all times. You can see this in action by right-clicking the Windows 7 taskbar and selecting Start Task Manager; on the Processes tab you should see wuauclt.exe, which is the Windows Update host process.
This manages the download and installation of any required updates, which are stored in a specific folder on your system partition.
In order to stop the installation of a Windows Update, these downloads must be deleted; but before you can delete the updates, you must stop the Windows Update service.
Stopping Windows Update
You will need to stop the Windows Update service in order to delete the downloaded updates and prevent them from being installed. This is a relatively simple task, although you should make sure that you have reactivated the service after completion.
Before starting, you will need to be logged into Windows 7 with your Administrator account.
In Windows 7, go to Start and in the Search box type services.msc and hit enter. You will open the Services console – scroll through the list and look for Windows Update. If the items are jumbled up, click the Name column header to sort them alphabetically.
When you find Windows Update, right-click and select Stop.
Deleting Windows Updates
It will take a few moments for the service to stop – you will see this thanks to a progress bar. Once the service has been stopped, return to Start > Search and enter:
The SoftwareDistribution folder will be listed as the sole search result – click this to open it in Explorer. Look for a folder called Download and open this to view the contents.
Although they will all be labelled with apparently random names, these are the Windows Updates that you can now delete to prevent their installation. Once deleted, these updates can be downloaded again by Windows Update, so you might wish to alter your settings once the service is restarted.
After you have deleted your updates, head to Start and once again enter services.msc in the Search box. With this screen once again open, right-click Windows Update and select Start. The service will begin again.